OUR CURRENT LAWSUIT, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan v. Secretary of State, et al (in the Court of Claims)
UPDATE SEPTEMBER 1, 2019
A new judge, Christopher Murray, was assigned to our case. Murray dismissed the suit on July 24. See the opinion below. We appealed on August 10. Also below is a summary of our brief, which will be filed in October.
Judge Murray's opinion, (July 24, 2019)
Committee's Issues on Appeal (August 10, 2019)
UPDATE JUNE 16, 2019
A new judge, Michael J. Kelly, was assigned to our case. In late May, Kelly asked both sides for briefs on the issue of res judicata, (a term for a matter that has been decided by a court and may not be pursued further by the same parties) on whether that applies to our case. On June 11, 2019, we filed our brief, and the Defendants did the same. You can click on them directly below:
Committee to Ban Fracking's Res Judicata Brief, (June 11, 2019)
State's Supplemental Brief [about Res Judicata], (June 11, 2019)
In our brief we explain that res judicata does not apply to our current case because: our previous case in November 2018 (a mandamus case in the Court of Appeals, which was dismissed without opinion) did not involve the same parties, that case was not decided on the merits and the claim was moot by the time the court dismissed it; the claims sought in our current case could not have been resolved in the previous case; and the defendants have already waived any claim of res judicata; and, according to a 115-year old Michigan Supreme Court decision on mandamus cases, the answer is no, res judicata does not apply here.
UPDATE APRIL 26, 2019
The State of Michigan filed a reply, and the Committee filed a sur-reply to that, on April 25. At this point the case is about dismissing the case. It is not yet being heard on the merits. The State has refused to answer our complaint but instead has chosen to fight us by getting the case thrown out of court. Immediately below are the 3 most recent filings in the case:
WHAT HAPPENED: On November 5, 2018 the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan submitted 47 boxes containing approximately 51,980 sheets bearing approximately 270,962 signatures to the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections (under the Secretary of State) for the 2020 election.
The Bureau rejected the signatures and the Committee sued in the Michigan Court of Appeals the very next day.
That case got dismissed with no opinion on November 15, after the emergency complaint was moot.
WE SUE AGAIN: On December 27, 2018, we filed a NEW lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims. We have sued the Director of Elections, Secretary of State, and Board of State Canvassers.
THE STATE FIGHTS BACK: On March 7, 2019, the Defendants, this time the new Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson, refused to settle the case and instead decided to fight us. They submitted a motion and brief to dismiss the case. (We had graciously granted them 2 extensions amounting to six weeks of extra time).
Our case # is: 18-000274MM Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan v Secretary of State
Verified Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (Dec 27, 2018)
Committee's Exhibits to CBFM Verified Complaint (goes with above document)
State's Motion (and Brief) for Summary Disposition (March 7, 2019)
Committee's First Interrogatories and Requests (March 21, 2019)
State's Motion to Stay Discovery (March 26, 2019)
The Committee's response (on April 4, 2019) in opposition to the State's motion for summary disposition is below, along with attachments, affidavit and motion:
Affidavit of LuAnne Kozma, (April 3, 2019)
On April 25, 2019, the Committee filed a Sur-Reply to the State's new motion (reply brief below) citing a new reason for trying to dismiss our case:
(Their filing included a copy of our lawsuit, which we excluded from the exhibits of the PDF to make a smaller file. Please download both items above to see entire case).
PREVIOUS LAWSUIT IN 2016:
** UPDATE JULY 25, 2017**
Our leave to appeal to Michigan Supreme Court was denied. Which means we must continue to collect signatures until we have all 252,523 required signatures, submit them to the State, and then file a new lawsuit to challenge the unconstitutionality of the 180-day signature gathering law. This is what the courts are telling us to do, saying essentially, we filed too soon. We don't agree with the decision. We certainly provided all the right legal arguments and facts to show that our case IS RIPE right now. But it is at this time our only course of action to a win.
We take this as a CALL TO ACTION to all volunteers to not give up. The only way we win, is if we PERSIST, collect the signatures, and win in court. The laws and court precedents are all on our side. Our case was not yet heard.
Let's WIN this and LET'S BAN FRACKING!
** UPDATE JUNE 8, 2017**
We filed a Leave to Appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court.
We filed a lawsuit on June 1, 2016 against the Director of Elections, Secretary of State, and Board of State Canvassers, challenging the constitutionality of the statute (MCL 168.472a) that imposes a time limitation on signature-gathering. Shortly thereafter, Governor Snyder signed a new version of the law making the 180-day limit absolute. The Court of Claims ruled that our case was not yet "ripe"--essentially that we filed too soon, because we have not yet submitted our signatures to the State. We, of course, argued that the case is ripe right now, because the "actual controversy" at hand is not whether we will collect all the signatures necessary, but that the State will not accept signatures older than 180 days. We took it to the Court of Appeals. That court upheld the lower court's decision. We filed a motion for reconsideration, and that was denied.
We filed a Leave to Appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court.
On July 25, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court denied our appeal.
Therefore, the only course of action we now have is to follow what the court is saying and continue to collect all of our signatures, when we get enough signatures, file them with the State of Michigan, and
You can also look up all documents on the state court's website: courts.mi.gov. Our case # in the Court of Appeals is #334480, Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan v Director of Elections.
Read the court filings by clicking on the documents below:
Exhibits available on request.
On June 22, the State filed a motion and brief for summary disposition:
We filed our response to their motion on July 8:
On August 8, 2016, Judge Stephen Borrello, Court of Claims, held that the case was not yet "ripe":
August 8, 2016 Decision by Judge Stephen Borrello
On September 23, 2016, Committee to Ban Fracking filed its first brief in the Michigan Court of Appeals fighting the ripeness decision:
On October 27, 2016 Appellees filed their brief:
On November 12, 2016 we filed a reply brief:
On March 14, 2017, the Court of Appeals decided the case and upheld the lower court decision that the case was not yet "ripe":
On April 4, 2017, we filed a motion for reconsideration:
On April 18, 2017 the State filed a reply to our motion:
On April 26, 2017 the Court of Appeals denied our motion for reconsideration:
On June 8, 2017, we filed a Leave to Appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court
On July 25, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court denied our leave to appeal.